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Methodist physician appointed presiding officer of state kidney disease task force

Houston, TX - 5/14/2008

Dr. A. Osama Gaber, director of transplantation at The Methodist Hospital, was appointed by Governor Rick Perry as presiding officer of Texas’ new Chronic Kidney Disease Task Force.

The task force was organized when legislation passed by the Texas House of Representatives required the state to develop a cost effective plan to prevent and screen for chronic kidney disease. Gaber is one of several physicians, scientists, state legislators and representatives from numerous other industries who will make up the team. The group’s first meeting was Monday, May 12.

“Our goal is to devise a plan to take better care of patients with kidney disease, and to make Texas a model for the treatment of kidney disease,” said Gaber, whose primary focus is kidney and pancreas transplantation. “Kidney disease is increasing in prevalence and is a major health and economic drain on the resources of the state and the nation. With the increasing incidence of obesity and diabetes, prevention and early intervention programs are critical to helping prevent the progression of kidney disease, a common byproduct of such illnesses. This is absolutely necessary for the health and economic well being of the citizens of Texas.”

Chronic kidney disease is a reduction of kidney function and can be caused by natural processes such as aging, diabetes, hypertension or cystic kidney disease. Recent estimates suggest more than 20 million people in the United States have the condition. As kidney function deteriorates with age, the number of people with decreasing kidney function is expected to rise along with the aging of Americans. Additionally, a number of other factors such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension are reported contributors, which are also increasing in incidence, irrespective of age.

According to Chapter 98 in Texas’ Health and Safety Code, the Chronic Kidney Disease Task Force will develop a plan to educate health care professionals about the advantages and methods of early screening, diagnosis and treatment of chronic kidney disease; develop a plan to educate health care professionals and kidney disease patients about the advantages of education and early intervention, including reduction in the need for transplantation; and make recommendations on the implementation of a cost-effective plan for early screening, diagnosis and treatment of chronic kidney disease for the state's population. The group will report its findings and recommendations to the governor and the legislature by Jan. 1, 2009.